LINKS TO INTERVIEWS (CLICK ON NAME):


BANDS
AUGUST INFINITY (aka SHE SAID FIRE)
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS
KALLING
MILITANTS
THERAPHOSA

SINGER-GUITARISTS
RAYMOND BALLY ..... (The Renegades)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1 of 2
SETH MAJKA Interview 2 of 2
SAM PARSONS
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles, Volunteers Grateful Dead tribute band)

GUITARISTS
J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog)
JAMES NICKERSON & SARAH NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1 of 2
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

VOCALISTS
A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Graham Bonnet Band)
BRANDYN BURNETTE
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Work Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
LESLIE DINICOLA
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Diet Of Worms, Retribution, Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, Dod Incarnate Records)
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
SARAH NICKERSON & JAMES NICKERSON ..... (Bangtown Timebomb)
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Standout, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1 of 2
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2 of 2

KEYBOARDISTS
SHAYFER JAMES
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
DOUG RAUSCH
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault)

BASSISTS
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Orchestra)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

DRUMMER
RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)

SONGWRITER
TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE ..... (Under The Gun Project)

MUSIC AUTHOR
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MUSIC MARKETING
MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

September 9, 2012

"You Should Have A Vision" An Interview With JAMES MOORE


Click here to visit official blog of James Moore & Independent Music Promotions.
Click here to visit official website of James Moore's book Your Band Is A Virus.


August 2012 (e-mail)

James Moore is the owner of Independent Music Promotions based in Vancouver, British Columbia. IMP offers online marketing campaigns & publicity blasts for indie musicians of all genres. Unlike many PR companies, James guarantees x amount of responses in the media for a band's campaign & in turn brings x amount of responses, let alone at some very affordable rates. IMP does both one-time campaigns & ongoing PR. James is also the author of Your Band Is A Virus, a comprehensive guide to proven music promotion strategies, with additional books forthcoming.

While I usually work with musicians on a one to one basis, occasionally I've found myself hooking up with a PR company. James Moore e-mailed me a few months ago asking if I'd be interested in reviewing some of his bands. Part of my accepting was his location in my once home of Vancouver, British Columbia, but also I just liked his casual friendly writing. I got a feeling from James that he was far from the look-at-how-important-I-am-feeling as some PR companies are, wooing the media with a list of all their big clients but then sharing indie bands that aren't what the media might be looking for. Or, for example, I recently had a PR company e-mail me constantly over a few weeks about if I would like to feature the videos of singles of their rap artists, who they said were 'perfect for my blog'. Obviously they had not looked at my blog & their lack of communication made it difficult to get off their mailing list. The first band I reviewed from James's roster were good, but not really fitting my blog requirements musically. The second band followed suit. Then, I did something I've never done before. Instead of abandoning the review, I sent it to James & explained that I didn't feel right putting it up as I felt unable to write the type of review that I prefer as the band just didn't fit what I look for. I had this feeling that James was not someone who I wanted to give up on, plus I felt he was someone who thought similarly to me. I could feel the passion for the music in his e-mails. Later, I retooled the review, over emphasizing their traits maybe more than the music, while James sent me some new bands that were exactly what I wanted & I was blown away on first listen. It's rare that I interview fellow industry folks or non-musicians, its rare that anybody does, but the outcome is always a revealing & educational highlight. James lived up to my expectations sharing with me his work, his philosophy & his books & for the first time in my work sent some additional thoughts after the fact to be added.

* * * *

AJ: How long ago & how did you get started in the PR business? Are you a frustrated musician turned promoter?

JAMES: I got started in the PR business about 8 years ago, learning what worked & what didn't promoting my own projects as well as friend's projects. Being the only person willing to put in the promotion hours, as I know is the case with most bands, it left me a ton of time to make mistakes & learn new things. I was definitely a frustrated musician. In fact, one of the turning points for me falls in line with something I hear most serious artists complain about. I decided to hire a professional PR company, & got involved with them for $1500 or so. I wanted to see the difference between my own work & what they could do. When all was said & done, the PR company delivered about 3 or 4 reviews. Of course I was upset, & I turned around & generated over 50 reviews for the same release. This was my baseline, or starting point. I thought, "If I just do my research & actually put in the work, I can get these results for deserving bands." & it's true. There's no excuse to only deliver a few reviews to an artist. It's just lazy. So from there, I spent about a year building up a significant contact list & being personal with every website & blog that I could. I researched the publications who were most open to actually helping independent artists & have met some great people - you don't meet anyone if you just send out a big mailing list. Independent Music Promotions has only been officially around since 2011. I set up the company after recovering fully from cancer in early/mid 2011 & wondering what would be a positive next step in my life. I knew promotion was a skill that I had & this was an opportunity to expand it. I also knew that I could do it differently & actually help the bands. At the end of the day, I love music & this gives me a chance to work closely with it. I started off with a few clients who I really believed in, MONKS OF MELLONWAH, DRUNKSOULS, KATRIN THE THRILL & ROOFTOP RUNNERS, & I also worked on building the blog into something worthwhile. Over the past year, the roster has grown & we've also said no to a lot of bands as well, which is something we're proud of ... a lot of artists seem like they were put together by a management team. We lean towards mostly darker material with depth to it, but will consider artists who are excellent within their chosen genre.

AJ: Why do you think the PR company you worked with delivered only 3 or 4 reviews, while you were able to get over 50? I just ask because I see some PR companies do well and others are heavily criticized.

JAMES: I actually know exactly why. The reason the reviews were so low is the same reason why a lot of bands get burned going through the exact same experience with PR companies. (Some PR companies, mind you. There are some real pros out there.) Many companies don't exert quality control, first of all. When they sign a band, they are interested in the check. This process over time pretty much ensures that most of the recipients they send music to are not overly engaged or interested in what's being sent. Their emails go to the junk folders. On top of this, I have first hand experience being added to multiple PR company email lists without getting a simple "hello" first. So the process is this. They sign an artist, draft a news release, then send that news release out to a mailing list who don't really care, & then they consider the work done. They hope something will stick, & occasionally they'll get a good piece out of it. With no understanding between the company & the writers, improper targeting, & a lack of personalization, not much usually happens though. With a little effort, though, it's pretty easy to ensure that this type of thing doesn't happen.

AJ: What type of set-up/offer do you have for bands that want to work with you?

JAMES: We offer full, dynamic promotion campaigns for artists who have an upcoming release & really want to hit all the potential media circles. When I say "all" I mean big & small, because what most PR companies don't tell you is that the usual bulk emails to Pitchfork, SPIN & Stereogum aren't likely to generate any results. That's why we try to "hit them all", although that's impossible of course. We cover the bases for our dynamic artists by submitting their music & videos to the proper major channels as well as contacting a large list of small to mid-level music blogs & publications as well. So many bands think they're too good for small & mid-level publications, wanting to go straight for Rolling Stone, but this trips them up. If you're small, make friends with small media & build. Anyhow, with the dynamic packages we also share our physical mailing lists with our clients to utilize, & we also pitch their music to our list of allies according to genre. It's basically a full-service PR campaign. We also don't have monthly minimums for the service, so if you only want to go with us for a month, it's fine. Other than this, we offer review packages where we guarantee a certain amount of reviews & press pieces. One package guarantees 7-8 & the other guarantees 16-18, but we almost always over-deliver. The reason we're able to guarantee is because of 2 things; we only choose high quality artists, & because we have this understanding with the writer's we've built relationships with, we can do the opposite of what most companies do & actually guarantee something to our artists. Our goal at the end of the day is coverage for our artists. Plain & simple.

AJ: I'm guessing you probably get a lot of bands that for one reason or other, such as limited manpower or it doesn't fit your audience, you choose not to work with. What do you look for in a band that you choose to work with?

JAMES: Well, we only have our own subjective view to go on, but I have to feel what they're doing on a deep level, & that can't happen if the band is busy trying to be the next NICKELBACK. I grew up with artists like NIRVANA, PUBLIC ENEMY, FAITH NO MORE, PORTISHEAD, SKINNY PUPPY, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, SONIC YOUTH ...on & on. The bands I work with have to be something I'd listen to on my own. In the first 6 months of the company I did work with a few artists who were solid, but not something I related to, but we have gotten much fussier with our official roster, & as a result it's quite eclectic at the moment. I look for something that blows me away & that I genuinely think will blow others away too. We actually seek to curate music. We don't just want to give all these blogs the indie pop & indie folk they seem to want all the time. We're fans of intensity, so we'll promote noise rock, punk, dark electronic music, progressive metal, rock n'roll ... everyone has their say in changing the music world, & our
small voice is our way of creating change.

AJ: Have you ever welcomed a band into your fold that for one reason or other you found you either couldn't work with or just was unable to get out there?

JAMES: I've never had a situation where I couldn't at least deliver a good amount of press & reviews for an artist. I have had artists who went with me & possibly had the wrong attitude ... not staying busy themselves & expecting the world perhaps. I like a positive exchange. The artists who get the best results are the ones who are at the steering wheel. They act all the time. They're submitting their music to festivals & labels. They're applying for licensing libraries. They're booking tour dates & getting music videos made. I'm meant to be part of a team, not someone who takes the ball & scores the touchdown, so to speak. If an artist has a negative attitude, I don't like to work with them. They'll learn soon enough that you can't go far like that. I've had artists approach us with the wrong balance of scepticism & I've just said no off the bat. It's best to have trust & communication - if you both have enthusiasm & openness, it motivates everyone.

AJ: How much of your personal tastes affect what bands you choose to work with?

JAMES: They 100 percent affect it! I'm a music fan before everything else. We actually spend a ton of hours scouting for just the right bands - the cream of the crop. We want to gain a reputation with all the publications we send music to for only sending innovative, amazing material. It's for this reason that we're starting to turn more & more heads with the major music blogs. What you get from us is essentially our own playlists.

AJ: Do you have an general advice for a young band about how to noticed by a PR company such as yours? Or, perhaps, what not to do?

JAMES: Yes, I actually put a lot of that into my books. My upcoming book Your Band Is A Virus - Expanded Edition, I actually sell the farm a bit by sharing just about everything I've learned over the past year - any trick I've found to be effective is in there. I like the idea of getting the information out there so anyone willing to put in the hours can do so. The main thing I've noticed, though, is just a lack of foresight from artists. If I were to give some quick advice, it would be; get your product & image right before doing anything else. Your EP or album must sound amazing, & you must have professional promo shots. Don't just throw your album on Bandcamp. Plan 3 months before your album release & heavily promote. Send your work in proper format to every relevant publication. Tour & play live as much as possible. Be busy & stay busy. Most of all, look busy! People can tell when they see your site if you play once every 2 months, but say you "want to be famous". You're sending mixed signals. You have to send the same vibration/message all the time. You also should have something genuine to offer. If you're just another singer, you're cheating everyone for even coming out in public. You're just another artist on Sonicbids. Before you post any music online, you should have a vision ... not a selfish one ... a pure one. The sad thing is ... it's easy to get noticed by a PR company because a lot of them just want the check from the indie artist. PR companies are just an email away. That's why it's not so much an issue to be noticed by them, but to research them & google their artists before you work with them. Don't let yourself get burned & then bring that baggage into all your future business relationships. This goes for any company - no matter how slick their website looks, google their artists. Getting noticed by popular media, music festivals, indie labels, respected venues & licensing companies is another story. That's why you want to stay busy & hit the business from all angles. Find people you can trust & treat them well.

AJ: What's the biggest struggle/headache in your work?

JAMES: It's a crowded industry, & there are literally millions of artists competing for the same positions. Music shouldn't be about competition, but the fact is that many of the music blogs we perceive as being open to indie artists are actually essentially shut down. Many of them can't keep up with the thousands of emails they receive, & others can barely manage getting interns to check them out. If everyone understood on a deep level how crowded the industry was, they would do what they do for the love of it & not wrap so many of their dreams in the mix. Expectations can be heavy baggage. The other struggle I've found is the extent that we collectively follow trends; it's staggering actually. "Hipster music" tends to dominate the music blog world & the festivals, & as someone who grew up listening to various genres, music with edge & some heaviness, it seems like something that won't be changing any time soon. There are brilliant artists from any time, but it's for this reason that I've particularly dedicated myself to being part of working with genuinely good rock artists. If rock is going to thrive, I want to be at least a small part of that. Leave the cute music to the kids - I want something I can chew on.

AJ: In this age of one-click do-it-yourself internet, where its said you can record an album in an afternoon & have it submitted to iTunes that night, is there still a need for PR companies as there was in the past?

JAMES: Well, I believe that an artist can promote themselves provided they dedicate hundreds of hours to it. You really don't need a publicist or a manager, but it can definitely help. The one issue with recording your album in an afternoon & then submitting it to iTunes or distributing it through CDBaby is this: you're likely to sell nothing unless you get your band known. It's nothing special to just be on iTunes. But as I said earlier, although there are a lot of ways to promote yourself online, the band 99 times out of 100 needs to be really busy playing live as well. The one exception is if an unknown artist has such a stunning video that it goes viral or something of
that nature. Even when you offer your album for free, you still need to promote the hell out of it to get those downloads generating. Some bands hate the idea of promoting, but consider it natural selection. They won't go far. It's the bands who genuinely believe in their vision (not in an egotistical way of course) who are willing to sit down & put time into it. They're present with it & do what needs to be done. People always want good music. They just need to know it's there.

AJ: What are some of the bands you've worked with & what styles of music? Or, name dropping of notoriety either with the bands themselves or people they've worked with that you can share?

JAMES: For the official roster some artists I've worked with include MONKS OF MELLONWAH (alternative rock), EndAnd (noise rock/punk), ROOFTOP RUNNERS (dark electronic), DRUNKSOULS (reggae), THE BARRENS (psychedelic rock), GENERATOR OHM (progressive post-rock), GUMSHEN (prog/funk/rock), RADIO FALLOUT (garage rock), VULTURE KULT (punk rock/metal), ILL FUNK ENSEMBLE (soul/funk/conscious hip hop), KLASSIK (hip hop/jazz), PIGEON PARK (blues rock), KATRIN THE THRILL (dark indie rock), FLEETING CIRCUS (alternative rock), WILLIE AMES (folk, acoustic), Doug Prescott (roots, blues) & CATS PARK (trip rock). It's been very exciting to see the growth of these artists, some who were with me for months & others who I've just started with. MONKS OF MELLONWAH, for example, are now touring Australia & planning U.S. tour dates & have received great results as well from working with HIP Video Promo & Tinderbox, 2 companies I respect for music video promotion & radio promotion. They're hard working & have a great manager, so I feel like part of a team. Bands like Brooklyn's EndAnd have made major strides & have received a ton of positive feedback on their recent release. I'm a big fan of them as well so it's gratifying. Basically, I really enjoy all these artists so it's fun to push their music.

AJ: Can you share some of the places you've gotten bands featured? & is there a place you got a band some attention that really got you excited?

JAMES: Well, it would be a long list, but we've gotten bands mentioned in Blog Critics, Technorati, Large Hearted Boy, Those Who Dig, The Burning Ear, Vandala Concepts Magazine, Target Audience Magazine ... hundreds of places. I tend to get excited about any pieces & don't discriminate. I'm DIY so I'm always making contacts - while there are some publications I'd love to get features in but haven't heard back yet, I plan to simply keep sending top quality material & prove myself that way. Some places have agreements with labels & there's not a whole lot you can do to break through. The ones who actually post good music, though, you can expect to see our artists in those places.

AJ: Can you tell me about the book you've written?

JAMES: Your Band Is A Virus basically takes bands from when they have their product ready to becoming their own publicist. I use tips that have worked for me, many of which I haven't seen anywhere else. The book came about because I thought there was a void in the music promotion book arena. While there are some excellent technical books, like All You Need To Know About the Music Business, I feel there are a shortage of good books related strictly to music promotion. Many of the ones I've read leave me with the same feeling as going to a weekend seminar. You may get a mild dose of inspiration, but there's really no meat to it. Just filler. So I wanted to mix a conversational style & some philosophy with a ton of actionable steps, clickable links, & ready-to-use information, so the musician can really read the book & promote themselves as they go along. Case studies are great, but it helps the most if you can tell people something that works & then give them the link to submit their band, or act on it. I'm working on 2 new books at the moment, one being Your Band Is A Virus - Expanded Edition, which has a bunch of new information & should be about double as big. I want to make it seriously worthwhile. It also has industry interviews with Stuart Epps (LED ZEPPELIN, Elton John producer), Hip Video Promo CEO Andy Gesner, & a bunch of others. The other book will be a simple action guide with one tip on each page, less conversational in style & very easy to follow. None of the books will be fully comprehensive - they just share what I know in my own niche of music promotion. I'm excited to share them though, & I'm confident they'll provide way more new information for indie artists in one place than they've ever seen before.

AJ: Anything else you'd like to share?

JAMES: Thanks for having me! I appreciate it!

* * * *

James Moore's Your Band Is A Virus, available on Amazon.com, covers the following topics:

* DIY ways to detach yourself from Musicsubmit-type services and promote for free
* Press release distribution
* How to contact bigger media and play by the rules better than anyone else
* How to approach the music press and media properly
* Ways to exploit your genre & sub-genres effectively
* How to avoid pitfalls and scams aimed specifically at indie artists
* How to use social networking to your advantage without spamming
* The scoop on digital distribution
* Mp3 blogs and music blogs are your friends
* Search engine optimization
* Where most bands go wrong once they’ve set themselves up online
* Exploit your subject matter
* An exclusive list of actionable resources and clickable links for press release distribution, review requests & music submissions
* Building strong press relationships, befriending the opinion makers
* Go through the back door and get the media talking about your band
* Embrace the media’s ego
* Use controversy to your advantage
* Avoid the independent musician’s Mp3 “hoarding” paranoia
* How to get featured on podcasts
* Get into film
* Tricks the moguls don’t talk about
* Use micro-job sites such as Fiverr to your advantage
* Use sweepstakes and contests through applications like wildfire to gain thousands of new fans
* Interview with legendary music producer Stuart Epps (LED ZEPPELIN, Elton John, George Harrison, OASIS)
* Go viral

1 comment:

  1. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information.
    Music Promotion

    ReplyDelete